Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is standing firm after the resignation of two Green MPs, saying she has no plans to step down.

Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Monday, 7 August 2017

Green MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon have withdrawn from the party's caucus but will remain as Green MPs.

They have quit the Green Party caucus after a move to expel them following an
ultimatum over Metiria Turei's leadership.

The two MPs will stay on as Green MPs until the election, but will not take part in any caucus events or campaigning. In a statement, co-leader James Shaw said the decision was supported by all 12 of the other MPs.

"The remainder of the Green Party caucus is 100 per cent behind our co-leader Metiria," Shaw said.

Advertisement

Shaw had said last night he would move to suspend the two MPs from caucus and speak to the executive about expelling them from the Green Party altogether - but that seems to have changed after a long meeting of caucus this morning.

Previously, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is standing firm after the resignation of two Green MPs, saying she has no plans to step down.

The party is this morning in a meeting to discuss the suspension of senior MPs Kennedy Graham and David Clendon, who resigned last night in protest at Turei's leadership.

Speaking to reporters at Wellington airport this morning, Turei said: "I talked to my caucus last night. All of them but those two have asked me to stay on. So that's what I'll do."


Co-leader James Shaw told the media at Parliament this morning that he wouldn't make any more comment.

Graham said he would have more to say later.

"I think it's quite important not to inflame things any further, I think we need to be cool, calm and dignified and have a decent discussion."

He hadn't yet talked to Clendon. Asked if he was upset about how it had played out, Graham said "I can handle life as it comes".

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said this morning she absolutely stood with Turei and the reasons for her admission.

Delahunty said Graham and Clendon had a right to do what they did but "the way that they have gone about it has not made us very happy".

"I don't support any view that our co-leader has been anything but courageous."

Green MP Barry Coates said that he thought Graham and Clendon had thrown the party under the bus.

He said most voters wouldn't care about the controversy as much as the media, and said Turei had his complete support.

"I support what we all decided to do in trying to stimulate this discussion about poverty in New Zealand."

The first he heard about the resignations was in the media.

"And that's [not] the way we do things in the Green Party."

Green MP Steffan Browning also said he was disappointed with the resignations and how they were handled.

"I don't think that's the correct thing to do at all."

Clendon said this morning he decided he could not continue as a candidate on Friday afternoon.

He reiterated his view that Turei could not remain as co-leader.

He also disputed accounts that caucus wasn't warned of his decision before he went to the media.

Clendon didn't accept he had thrown the Greens under the bus.

"They'll have their view. Kennedy and I made a principled decision."

He was disappointed a senior Green figure had told "lies" about his work ethic.

"I have never been asked not to stand on the list," he added.

David Clendon adds further context to his threats to leave the Green party over current co-leader Metiria Turei controversy.

Marama Davidson, tipped as a future leader of the party, said Turei's stand was "incredibly brave".

"We are just more convinced we've got to do this for ending child poverty.

"We still have a leader, I'm standing right beside the leader we've got right now."

James Shaw told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning he would make moves today to suspend Graham and Clendon from caucus, and have them entirely booted from the party.

"I respect both David and Kennedy and their interpretation and right to hold that opinion. What really annoyed me yesterday was the way they went about expressing it."

Shaw said Graham was an "extraordinarily hard worker" and comments from party figures yesterday saying otherwise were "wrong" and "said in anger".

He said Turei's benefit fraud happened in the 1990s, before she entered Parliament.

"She turned her life around. I disagree that there hasn't been contrition. She is trying to make amends for that and work through the consequences at the moment.

"Everyone is entitled to a past. The woman I knew is a person of real integrity and courage. And so I do back her."

He said the Greens' position was recoverable.

"You look at the Labour Party, right - a lot can change in the space of a week. This is a messy episode, and I am very sorry for it, but we will get through it.

"There are no more [resignations] to come."

Asked if there were more revelations about Turei to come, Shaw said he was satisfied "everything that is out there is out there".

Last night he said he would expel the two MPs from the Greens, meaning they would finish their decade-long Parliamentary careers as party-less MPs.

He put his full support behind Turei, saying she would still be co-leader on election day and remain at No1 on the party list.

"She is going to stay on," he told reporters at a late-night press conference at Parliament.
Graham and Clendon made the threat after Turei said on Friday she would not resign over her controversial benefit history 20 years ago, when she lied to authorities about her living situation.

"We do not believe that lying to a public agency - WINZ, IRD or any other - can ever be condoned," the two MPs said in a joint statement last night.

They said Turei's ongoing defence of her admission, and its timing, was "incompatible with the standards of leadership of the Green Party" and that the party should appoint a new female co-leader for the election.

Shaw said last night that he respected their decision, but could not respect the way in which they had resigned. "The way they have chosen to go about it is strongly in violation of every norm, culture and process that we have," he said.

They had "betrayed" the Greens and put the election campaign at "extreme risk", he said, adding that they should have waited until after the election to resign.

Kennedy Graham. Photo / Supplied
Kennedy Graham. Photo / Supplied

The party's communications team moved swiftly last night, wiping Graham and Clendon from the list of candidates on the party's website.

If the two MPs are expelled today, they will become independent MPs, because there is no provision for list MPs to be forced out of Parliament if they are expelled from or leave their party.

They will still be able to draw the MPs' salary until the election and will get the payout of three months' salary - about $40,000 - which is given to MPs who do not return after an election.

Their acrimonious departure is a blow for a caucus which prides itself on stability and harmony.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford said such public disunity among the Green Party was unprecedented.

"I can't remember anything like this - for people to publicly make a stand like that and for the Greens to accept a resignation like that, it is unprecedented.

David Clendon. Photo / Supplied
David Clendon. Photo / Supplied

"Good on the Greens for accepting the resignations and good on them for sticking by Metiria and the courageous stand she made rather than undermining the leader."

Graham, the Green candidate for North Shore, was ranked at eighth on the party's list and was likely to be re-elected. Clendon, from Northland, was ranked at 16, placing him on the cusp of re-election.

Green Party general manager Sarah Helm said last night that the two MPs had been asked last year to stand down at the general election but had refused to.

As a result, they had received list rankings they were unhappy with, and had been disgruntled ever since, she said.

Helm also said that the two MPs had been "underperforming" in the election campaign so far. Clendon had made just one phone call, and Graham had done three to four hours' campaigning work, she said.

Their departure prompted a flippant response from the party's youth wing co-convenor, Meg Harrison, who tweeted "F*** Kennedy Graham and David Clendon thb [to be honest]", which Shaw said was "inappropriate".